Kansas State University

Weber wants veterans to shoulder load for K-State basketball team

Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber was pleased when Marcus Foster, Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson play well in the team’s lone exhibition game last week, but he wasn’t satisfied.

If anything, Weber had bittersweet emotions about the Wildcats’ final preseason tuneup.

Will Spradling, a senior guard, went scoreless and only attempted four shots. Shane Southwell, a senior swingman, missed nine of 15 shots and never got into a rhythm. As a team, K-State made less than 37 percent of its shots. Regardless of what he received from his rookies, he expected more from K-State’s veterans.

“Obviously, if the freshmen can carry us, I will be surprised,” Weber said. “One of the words I put up today is consistency. We need consistency from the older guys. They may not shoot perfect every game, but they have to be part of it. When Will plays the point, he did not get a lot of looks, if you go back to last year, because he had to work so hard to get us into our offense and we just were not patient enough to give it back to him.

“We will mix in Nigel if he keeps doing well and try to shift Will to the two. We are just trying to get all of them to be patient so we can maybe get some better looks down the road. We cannot shoot 36 percent and expect to be a consistent team.”

The Wildcats will begin searching for consistency at 8 p.m. Friday, when they open the regular season against Northern Colorado at Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State will be expected to win, but Northern Colorado has an experienced starting five and a skilled big man in 6-foot-9 Connor Osborne. So it won’t be an easy game, especially with both teams adjusting to new officiating priorities that led to numerous fouls in exhibition games.

Foster isn’t worried about that, though. His main concern is continuing to score and helping his teammates become more comfortable when they are on the floor.

“I think we are all still messing around with things, and we are still trying to find out what our roles are,” Foster said. “We have some defensive stoppers, some X-factors for us, and we still need some rebounders. We are just coming together as a team right now.”

Spradling and Southwell can speed up that process by scoring effectively against Northern Colorado. But their main priority might be playing smarter.

“I got moved to point so I expected not to get as many shots as Marcus and Shane,” Spradling said. “Marcus is a scorer and so is Shane. I did expect to have more shots but not too many shots.”

Weber has confidence in both his freshmen and his seniors. Once they start playing together, he thinks good results will follow.

“If you add consistency and experience together, you are going to have success,” Weber said. “That is what we will hopefully develop as we go on. I hope we have a little bit of a foundation. We have not even started building the house yet and we have a long ways to go.”